Looking after your mental health when you have to stay at home.
We are now all in uncharted territory due to the Covid 19 pandemic and it can be difficult to know how to manage this strange and very different time. Here are some tips to make this time more manageable and look after your mental well-being.
1. Establish a routine
It could be tempting to lounge around in your PJ's and dressing gown all day as nobody is likely to be visiting but that can quickly lead to lethargy and feeling a lack of purpose, which in turn can lead to a dip in your mood. Instead, aim to get up at the same time each day, get dressed and have something lined up to do. You could even have a 'to do list' split into chores and leisure so there is variety throughout the day.
If you are working from home, it's important that you are able to separate your work life from home life. Having a separate room to work in where you won't have interruptions is ideal though maybe not possible for some. If you don't have a separate room, you can always set up a separate area and try and limit the amount of interruptions you will have - not easy if you have kids! This let's you get into your 'work mindset'. And if you do have other people at home that can also work to your advantage by taking breaks to meet up with them for tea breaks and or meals.
2. Keep Active
Keeping active can help us reduce stress and also give us a boost of 'feel good' hormones which help to keep us alert and also promote sleep. Though my children are now grown up, me and my other half have been tuning into Jo Wicks PE lessons each morning at 9 am. Some days I really don't feel like doing it, but am always glad that I did afterwards. It gives us a good start to the day.
3. Stay Connected
Now, more than at any other time, it is important to stay in touch with friends and family. It can simply be a phone call or you can take advantage of the many online platforms where you can have face to face video calls. Remember too, those people you know who live alone - they will more than likely appreciate a phone call. This can also give you the 'feel good' factor, knowing that you have brightened up somebody else's day.
4. Be Creative
What is that thing that you have always wanted to try? Learning to play a musical instrument? Write a book or a blog. Learn how to paint? Make a tasty meal from scratch? Do some sewing?..........The list is actually endless and YouTube has tutorials on practically anything you care to think of. Or if you don't think any of these are for you - just good old fashioned chores - you know the one's you are always putting off - now is the perfect time to get down to them. All these kind of activities allow you to become absorbed in what you are doing and to forget about your worries or how you are feeling. They pass the time and also give your mind a break from any worrying that you might be doing. You also get rewarded with that feeling of achievement when you see the results of your efforts.
5. Do not Stayed Fixated on the News
Staying tuned in to every update about the virus can easily lead to feelings of anxiousness and panic. We all need to know what is going on but limit how often you watch or listen to it. I felt this myself as it became apparent how serious this situation is. I was watching all the updates on TV and also on social media and I felt a panic beginning to rise up within me. That's when I decided to only watch the news once a day and that quickly sorted it. For those who like to be in control of everything - this situation could easily become a trigger for anxiety to take hold so don't let it. We can control how much we watch or listen. We can also take government advice about staying safe https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus. And that's all we can do.
6. Take some time in Nature
If you are able, take some time out of the house for some form of exercise e.g. walking, running, cycling, or just meandering along - observing social distancing - as this is also really good for our mental health. We can also use this time to observe what is happening in nature. To really notice the flowers, birdsong, colour of the sky etc. Drink it all in and nourish your wellbeing.
Stay safe everyone and make the most of this unexpected time. You are not alone!!